It’s very rare these days to find a restaurant with little to no social media presence or even a website. But as I am learning, it is often these restaurants that are the gems. My husband and I went on a mini honeymoon last weekend in our beautiful province and got to know the peaceful and friendly city of Parksville.
We arrived in Parksville late Friday night and checked into Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort. Since we were going to have dinner at the resort’s Cedar Restaurant (review to come) on Saturday night, we decided to go into town in search of dinner.
We wanted to find something local and not a chain we could find in Metro Vancouver. After some googling, we settled on Chameleon’s Restaurant. We were a bit hesitant because they had no website, Twitter or Facebook account (we wanted to browse the menu) but based on the amazing reviews on Urbanspoon, we decided to give it a shot.
Thank god for modern GPS because they are located in a blink and you’ll miss it location, underneath a hotel and next to a Bank of Montreal. Upon going inside, our apprehension melted away.
We were greeted with live jazz music. The music was being played by two adorable members of the local high school band, and our waitress Ali/Aly/Alli (sp?) was so, so nice. The restaurant radiated warmth and was super clean and tidy (the manager Tim, cleaned off every table with a tiny brush after each diner).
We chatted with Ali and Tim and learned the menu at Chameleon’s varied and changed daily based on whatever fresh ingredients the chef could find at the local market in the morning. For example, while we were there their bisque soup of the night was crab. The stuffed chicken breast is another item that changed based on ingredients available; it was stuffed with sundried tomatoes and artichoke the night we visited. Ali also told us there was no deep fryer in the back and all the food was made on the grilled, steamed and etc. In other words, no short cuts and healthy!
My husband decided to order the bisque and I ordered the mushroom caps with cream cheese and smoked salmon as appies. For mains, my husband ordered the ribs (which had an apple glaze that night) and I ordered the lamb shank. The food came out super fast and the portions were quite large. So large, we didn’t have room for desert, though their selection of dessert was mouth watering.
The food here can be described as homey. It’s kind of like going over to your mom’s for a nice dinner. To be honest, the bisque needed a bit of seasoning and the mushroom caps could be cooked just a tad longer. However, the mains were well seasoned and tasted great. I loved my lamb and the meat on the rack of ribs fell off the bones. While the food is simple, nothing super fancy or gourmet, what makes Chameleon’s a gem is the atmosphere, service and amazing staff.
Dinning out is an experience, yes the quality of food is important but sometimes good food combined with amazing service = an extraordinary experience.
If you are in Parksville and looking for a local restaurant, give Chameleon’s a try. You won’t regret the warm and inviting atmosphere and the home-style cooking!